Wrong address given to paramedics by dispatcher - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by: Alisa Nave, 9-1-03, 9:27pm

Wrong address given to paramedics by dispatcher

James Wagner had just won his first game of the night at The Billiards Club July 9th when he collapsed.

"I don't care, get an ambulance out here, this dude's fixin' to die."

The frustration on 911 tapes comes from the fact that despite several calls to the emergency number, help didn't arrive for more than 30 minutes.

"Caller: Please hurry. They're doing CPR. His tongue, he's done swallowed his tongue."

Confusion over jurisdiction and the exact address seems to have played into the delayed response.

The first caller to 911 gave the correct address

"Caller: It's 2686 Kirby-Whitten Rod just south of Summer Avenue, the Billiards Club"

But when the ambulance was dispatched the address changed.

"Dispatcher: 60 year old male having multiple seizures at The Billiard Club, 2686 Kirby Rd. At Langsdale Cove."

Leaving off the "Whitten" part of the address sent the ambulance miles away from where Chet Felts was performing CPR in the pool hall.

"We did CPR for forty minutes."

Felts was one of the frantic callers, hearing the tapes took him right back to that night.

A night when Felts says everything that could go wrong did.

"Why can't they do what's necessary? Why couldn't my friend get help?"

While an ambulance searched for the pool hall, dispatchers tried to decide if the hall was in Memphis, Bartlett or the County.

"BART: Billiards club?

MEM: Yeah, 2686 Kirby Whitten.

BART: I don't think that's ours.

MEM: Kirby Whitten's not yours?

BART: Not below 2735.. I don't think.. Once it goes south.

MEM: Oh my God, this is ridiculous."

"MEM: It's right on the borderline Fire. We don't normally handle those.

Caller: It doesn't matter. Somebody please, this guy's fixin' to die."

As minutes passed, other calls came in with differing addresses further confusing dispatchers.

"Dispatcher:...we've got somebody on the way.

Caller: Yeah after 25 minutes.

Dispatcher: I understand, and they're on the way.

Caller: I hope you rest at night.

Dispatcher: I will."

Help finally arrived but it was too late Jim Wagner was pronounced dead.

The experience sickened those inside the pool hall.

"Don't call 911. Throw me in a truck and take me to a hospital."

A distrust created after calls for help, that took too long to answer.

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